SUDAN WATCH: African Union criticises UN peace proposal for Sudan

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

African Union criticises UN peace proposal for Sudan

An Associated Press report today says Jan Pronk postponed talks Wednesday with rebel officials in southern Sudan until he can meet with their leader to negotiate the deployment of up to 10,000 peacekeepers to monitor the peace accord.

John Garang, chairman of the rebel SPLM was expected to arrive in Rumbak by Wednesday. But by mid-afternoon there was still no sign of him, and Jan Pronk flew to Ethiopia to meet with AU officials about the proposed peacekeeping mission.

Here's another puzzling development. VOA today says the AU has criticised the UN proposal to send a peace support mission to southern Sudan. Here is an excerpt from the report:

AU Peace and Security Director Geofrey Mugumya told VOA there is no reason why the UN should send a 9,000-strong mission to southern Sudan to monitor the north-south peace agreement signed January 9 in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. "Maybe they can have a contingency plan in case of any flaring-up of problems," said Mr. Mugumya. "But, to me at this point in time, I do not see any need for peacekeeping where people have agreed mutually to cease hostilities."

An SPLM spokesman told VOA the presence of a UN peace mission has already been provided for in the comprehensive peace deal. "In principle, it is agreed that there will be some international U.N. force in the Sudan," he said. "It is mostly for disengagement of forces."

Mr. Kwaje said the mission would act as a barrier between armies from the north and the south, and would also protect other monitors such as human rights groups. Mr. Mugumya says, if the UN is going to proceed with its peace mission, it should do so with the collaboration of the AU.

"If we could work with Jan Pronk, we could have a common approach on what we want to achieve in Sudan in general, rather than UN having its own objectives and Darfur having its own objectives," added Mr. Mugumya. "So this is what I want: harmonising and common approach."

SPLM spokesman Mr. Kwaje said the AU has failed to keep peace in Darfur. He said the advantage of having the UN is that it can draw upon forces from all over the world, which can rapidly be deployed.

Note, I wonder what has happened to the EU's 1,500-strong rapid reaction force - comprising British and French troops that is in training this month in readiness to be deployed anywhere in the world within 10 - 14 days.


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